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DWP Social Fund and the Reuse Sector

Community Care Grants to support people in desperate need are to be replaced by Local Support under the new Social Fund. Within the Government's plans there is recognition of the value of the FRN membership's work to provide goods, services and support to the most disadvantaged in UK's society, and also indicates major opportunities for Local Authority Partnership with Local Reusers.

Following two years of consultation with the Department of Work and Pensions, the FRN has today received notification of the Government’s response to the recent call for evidence on the replacement of community care grants. We have been lobbying hard to get members recognised for the support they give to social fund beneficiaries who are in desperate need. FRN has pushed to get the sector recognised within the new Social Fund programme and thankfully the Government’s Response illustrates that we were successful in ensuring the services of our 300 members is given a high profile.

Both the FRN and one of its members, PREEN from Bedfordshire, are highlighted as examples of who Local Authorities should “consider” to work with and “partner” when administrating the allocation and management of the Social Fund.

Craig Anderson from FRN said "Over the past couple of weeks, and after many years of consultation, we have successfully managed to place FRN and its members at the forefront of Government Policy; reuse has a significant role in Defra's Waste Review which should enable a greater supply of product into our membership and now today we have the DWP supporting reusable goods demand through the Social Fund. Having managed to bring DWP, Defra and BIS together, the Government is now proposing that different Local Authority departments come together and talk more about the wider social, economic and environmental benefits of reuse".

During the consultation process, FRN was keen to submit evidence that would ensure greater efficiency and effectiveness of the Social Fund process and allocation. The main issues we emphasised were the need to improve the assessment process in order to establish the true need of beneficiaries by utilising local knowledge and local contact, to engage the service or goods suppliers within the assessment process, to develop a code of practice to be adopted locally by suppliers and providers, and further recommendations to improve the supply of goods to beneficiaries.

Key Issues to be found in the Government’s Response are:

~Recent and rapid increase in expenditure of funds is not sustainable

~Application Demand versus Actual Need

~Moving away from perceived “Crisis” to “Disaster” support

~Increased demand through young single jobseekers

~Ending Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants

~Social Fund Administration by Local Authorities

~Concerns over lack of ring-fencing but possible for LA to apply

~Opportunity for Reuse Sector to offer Guidance to LAs on assessment of need for products

~Moving from distant assessment to local support

~DWP want LAs to “consider” partnership with Reusers

~WEEE and PAS141 certification requirements for reused white goods

~Recognition of FRN Approved Re-use Centres

~LA Social Depts. to work with LA Waste Depts. to support W/EEE reuse (supply and demand- joined up Government Policy)

~LA sub-contracting of support services (assessment, referral, supply contracts)

~Moving from Cash allocation to Goods and Services only

It is FRN's core objective to alleviate poverty through the provision of goods to low income households and in furtherance of this objective; we will work with the DWP and specifically hope to aid the development of guidance on reuse for Local Authorities and Reusers and determine opportunities for our members for sub-contracts and product and service provision.

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